Sunday, January 4, 2009

Project : Mr. Muggles

Project : Mr. Muggles
Date : July 2008 - September 2008
Materials : Yarn (3 types), fabric (2 types), beads, wire, chain, foam, stuffing, tiny buttons, thread, glue
Tools : crochet hook, pliers, scissors, cat brush, needled, hot glue gun
Finished Product:

Mr. Muggles : done


First panic because there's a set of restrictions applied to the project that you must meet (see below). Then just sorta start crocheting and see how you feel. Start at the neck and work down the body, putting a hunch in for shoulder blades. When done, go back and work from the neck up, including a bulge at the back so a stocking hat that you're never actually going to make can be worn.

Avoid finishing/fleshing out the face because you're afraid and go back to work on the body. Half-assedly stick some wire through the body where the limbs are but since you didn't wire a spine, it doesn't really do all that much. Crochet some limbs! But not all of them at once, because that would be commitment. Skip around between legs, stopping at the knees. Add a super stubby fox tail with a white tip. Then start brushing the body with a cat brush because you're too eager to try it out rather then waiting like a sane person. However, realize that this look is not actually a good one and stop before you destroy the entire piece. The end of the project will have brushed haunches, rump, and tail to cover for your failed experiment.

Suck it up because you have to and go back and finish the 4 limbs you got. Use black instead of red because you still have foxes on the brain. For this same reason & the beard requirement, use white for the lower jaw of the face. Crochet basically a bent O several rows deep around the mouth, then cut fabric to shape and sew it in. Bend a wire in place on the "inside" and sew that down as well. Now pull out the red and finish off the head. Be sure to build up around the brow region with sharp increases/decreases and doubling back for shape.

Because the requirements call for it, go back and stick more wire through the body where it looks like you can, and crochet another pair of arms. Then select the most adorable little black matte beads and use them for eyes. I confess to not remembering how I did the nose....

At this point embrace the fact that your 3rd pair of limbs looks terrible, especially where they join the body. Therefore draft a vest pattern and sew it together to hide this yarn connection. Don't sew it directly to the monster itself, but feel free to sew the arm holes and hem it while the toy is wearing it so that you need only make it look good while worn. Also, don't worry about arm hole size, the vest is never coming off you decide because you sew the vest flaps closed when affixing adorable little buttons to close it.

Realize you still have hat + glasses + beard requirements. Shred some nice white yarn to get those wool chunks that make it. Use a yarn needle and thread them through the chin and hope no one pulls too hard on them. Bend that wire you used for armature into the shape of eyeglasses and then solder the bends together to make it stronger/not look as tacky. Leave a wire protruding on one side so you can shove it into the nose and have it stay. Because the monster is beginning to look posh and because the glasses easily fall out, take a segment of necklace chain and solder it to the glasses and sew the end to the vest. Then use foam to make a top hat- a rectangle, circle, and doughnut shape being cut out and hot-glued together to do so. Now stop before you ruin it.

Thoughts :
Mr. Muggles originally started out from a list of requirements, put forward during a Ravelry exchange. The list : “Head: Beard, Long Pointy Nose,Open Mouth, Extremities: Big Ol Feet, Extra Arms/fingers, Body : Scales, Extra Bits and pieces: Hat, Glasses”. "Ugh!" I thought. What a terrible list to work from. The beard, hat, and glasses made it far too human for what I normally like to do. For some reason I was positively gripped with the notion of a fox early on. I also desperately wanted to apply the "brushing yarn" technique I had heard about. There were a number of sketches done for him, before and during the process of his creation. For the longest time he looked older and wiser- a longer beard, simple un-chained classes perched at the tip of his nose, and a stocking knit sock cap with a bell on the end. Phfff... How quickly things can change when I'm actually crafting something.

The clothing improved him greatly, helped define the body. The brushing of the red failed because the red was too solid and the creature lost form. Sad. The hat idea I had gotten from a friend's gift. I'm only mildly sad that I forgot the "big feet" requirement. The open & wired mouth was positively awesome. Fun and very expressive.

In the end, I love how nervous and stuffy he strikes me as.

Mr. Muggles fidgeted with his glasses as he lifted the saucer and took a tip of tea from a delicate china cup. This whole situation was quite distressing and it appeared that, after his fifth cup, simply sipping tea and hoping would not make it disappear. The velvet that the mechanism had lain in was still indented with it's shape- the glass shards of the display case simply dusting the fabric hills and valleys without disturbing them.

It was gone and he, the curator, had no idea where it had gotten off to. All the devices on display weren't wound- he shuttered to think of what level of chaos would be obtained if even a crank or two were applied to some of the artifacts. If the device certainly hadn't made off on it's own, then what? None of the others had been touched. Why just this one? Muggles lifted his cup again but found it to be empty. Sighing heavily, he set it down on a nearby, intact case and hunched down to think. His fuzzy black paws fidgeted with the phantom archival tag he could already imagine tied about his leg. Oh heavens above, she was going to send him away! He looked around, forlorn. He needed another cup of tea.

Project : Caterpillar Mermaid

Project : Caterpillar Mermaid
Date : August 2008
Materials : Yarn (3 types), wire, stuffing, fabric, thread, pins
Tools : Crochet hook, pliers, sewing machine, needle, scissors
Finished Product:
FuzzySnake2 FuzzySnake3


I'm pretty sure I started this ages upon ages ago. And by started, I mean crocheted a basic torso with a tiny V of off-white yarn on the breast. Half crocheted a torso. And put it away for a very long time. Well, along comes August and I pull it out and decide it's too tiny to put your normal limbs on. So I extend it down and down and down further into a snake like shape. Towards the end I give it a couple ring-tail bands of white-white yarn to spice it up. I got back to the top and crochet up a neck/back of the head. At this time, I've also shoved a long wire through the torso.

The scale at this point is rather small and a crocheted face will lack all detail so I switch to fabric. It wasn't meant to be so stubby, it just sort of worked out that way- made of three pieces : the brow, the "butteryfly" muzzle shape, and a tiny wedge underneath for a throat. A two wires are shoved through the torso for arms. That's two wires for four hands. The length of the arm has a basic tube of fabric tightly sewn down it which overlaps the fingers, which for one hand had wire running through them and the second were just folded fabric.

A final pair of legs are half sewn by hand and half with the machine. A wire is stuck through the torso and the legs attached to it. The toes are wired. To finish it off, two black-headed pins are stuck into the face for eyes.

Thoughts :
Pre-final legs, the monster looked really cool. And if I had spent more time on the hind legs, it still might have been cool (remember! Always sew the joints you want! Don't just depend on wires alone for shaping!). The time was not taken, however, since it was a gift to my parents and I was right up against the deadline. The wiring was included so that it could be posable throughout their cubes. They liked it. My mother however considers the pins to be nostrils rather then eyes. Interesting. The degree of pose-ability with this thing is lots of fun, I really wish I had had the time to make a stop-motion clip with it.

There is a woman who I speak to when I go to the drawing group Dr. Sketchy's. We admire each other's work and chat, me somewhat shyly and her with the obligatory crazy-artist zest. During these periods, I often pull out whatever my current in-progress craft project is and crochet in the long pauses when the models take breaks. Being nice and polite, she comments on them and some times makes observations on what they look like in their unfinished state. This one she observed minus the hind legs and declared it to be a Caterpillar Mermaid! I like it.

Project : Bat-Bunny-Dragon

Project : Bat-Bunny-Dragon
Date : January 2008 - July 2008?
Materials : fabric (satin black, furry black, red satin), yarn, foam, stuffing, beads (teeth & eyes), black electrical tape, wire, white out, thread
Tools : sewing machine, crochet hook, needle, scissors, pliars

Finished Product:

Bat Dragon

Make a basic wire-frame body for the torso and wings. Randomly cut out scraps of fuzzy black fabric and sew together the torso. Tape up the "fingers" of the wings with black electrical tape. Cut satiny black fabric to size and sew to/around the electrical tape. Leave enough on the bottom of the wings to fold over and sew. Paint a white line of white-out along the edge of the wings (where the fabric is doubled). Cut a thin strip of fuzzy fabric and sew along the "arm" of the wings.

Crochet a "tube" using fuzzy black yarn for the neck. Add more wire to the armature to make up the head and neck. Slip fuzzy neck over it and sew to torso. Crochet a couple final touches onto other end of neck. Randomly cut & sew up a narrow lower jaw with red fabric for inside the mouth. Randomly sew up the top of the head. Think long narrow triangles for the whole thing. Affix both to the neck and each other (can't remember the order) and slip some wire into them at the same time. Cut out some foam ears, attach to head with slight curve. Add eyes. Use a bunch of tiny triangular beads and sew along lip-line for teeth.

Switch to the other end. Add more wire, cut a big triangle of fuzzy black fabric, fold in half, sew to butt, then sew up seam around wire, stuffing as you go. At the very tip, just tie down some white stuffing for a POOF! tail. Switch back to legs and FREAK OUT. Then give up and sew two tiny tubes and affix them to the legs. At this point, call it quits.

Thoughts :
This went from having amazing potential, to being meh, to sucking, to settling on meh. The in-progress photo is my favorite. The head was neat, but I didn't scale it right and so it threw off the whole project. But the time I got to the feet, I just gave up because nothing would fit with the totally wacky scale I had going. Oh, by the way, there was a near six month gap between the awesome stage and the "I screwed this up" stage... But I've reached the point where a stupid finished project is better then a potentially-awesome unfinished one.

The original design was based on this character created by a friend. The wings were awesome for it, and the scruffy neck... but when I stuck the head on there it was, like, 100 times too large and threw off the entire project. The wings look awesome, but are time consuming to make so that's why I ditched on the original tail design as well.

I've come away from the project with a good wing design/approach, a finished project, and a so-so monster that I can hang in interesting places using it's wired tail. Also learned- I can come back to projects and should! Because as lame as they look, they still look better then something with protruding wires that only I can "see".

The creature wobbled forward a couple steps and then two to the left. It shook it's head and chirped. Leaning back on her chair, the woman took the pins from between her lips and handed them to a plump sewing assistant. Sticking them into it's back, it waddled off to the corner of the desk and hunched down. The new creation cheeped and stuck out it's luxuriously maned neck- it's large head bobbing and swaying as it watched the sewing assistant. A long and crooked tail thumped the desktop twice but the woman picked the creature up just as it tried to spring forward.

Her long fingers closed about it's torso, holding it's wings against its body while stubby little feat kicked frantically below. The friendly bird sounds were replaced by a low growl and hiss before it's jaws locked onto her thumb, worrying at the flesh with its nubby little teeth.

"Perhaps I can use it as a decoy," the woman said with a sigh. "It seems noisy enough, and I must have miss read my measurements at some point because at this scale those wings will do nothing but drag." Shaking her head, she tossed the poor thing over her shoulder and went in search for the miss-placed decimal point somewhere in her calculations. Warbling deep in it's throat, the creature picked itself up off the floor and waddled forward to mingle with the other things shuffling about the laboratory.